By Liam Berti
Algonquin’s Spread the Net Student Challenge team has taken a commanding lead in the nation-wide competition after hosting a 12-hour walk-a-thon to raise money and awareness for the campaign.
A dynamic buzz filled the campus hallways and the Robert C. Gillett Student Commons on Jan. 31 as teams set off on a campus-wide stroll under one of the bed nets that the foundation purchases for families in Africa.
Algonquin’s country-leading team, named the Rick Mercer Malaria Reporters, raised $5,200 at the event, pushing the team closer their goal of raising $15,000 by the end of the competition.
“The amount of participation and the energy that people brought was amazing,” said Lisa Roots, faculty representative and team captain. “I don’t think I expected people to be as excited as they were, and I certainly didn’t expect to bring in the amount of money that we did.”
The school now leads all other Canadian post-secondary schools in fundraising with $10,447 and is on pace to have Rick Mercer film a portion of The Rick Mercer Report on the college campus in March. With two weeks remaining in the competition, Algonquin’s team needs only $4,553 to reach their goal.
“We want to do our best to do what we can to raise money,” said Davide Carlucci, student chair of Algonquin’s team. “If Mercer comes it would be amazing, but in the end, any money we can raise is going to an amazing cause. The foundation has already given over 500,000 nets to African families, so anything we can do to boost that number is great.”
Eighteen teams in total took part in the walk-a-thon, including the Students’ Association, Student Support Services, College Leadership Council and multiple student teams from the event management, victimology and paramedic programs, to name a few. Some student and staff participants took part in multiple shifts of the walk, giving two or three hours of their time for the cause.
“This is one initiative where a person had the drive, energy and vision to get it to stage one,” said David Corson, president of the SA, who walked the first hour of the event. “If someone’s already done the work, we know there’s commitment and there’s a drive.”
Each team member was required to join forces with other participants and walk a designated route of the campus for one hour, taking donations along the way and selling the lollipops that the team have had on sale since the beginning of the semester.
Teams would pass off the nets to the next lineup of walkers at the top of each hour, stimulating and exciting the participants as cheers and celebration from the large group filled the student commons.
“Having new people show up to walk every hour helped keep us energized,” said Roots. “This initiative has confirmed for me that we are a large community and, as a large community, we can make a difference.”
The Algonquin team, which started off as 14 police foundations students, has also gained more team members as the initiative continues, now boasting a roster of 21 students from multiple different programs.
“My hat’s off to the students, because they stepped up and we would not be where we are if they hadn’t,” said Roots. “If our attitude is: let’s try this, make mistakes, learn from them, then we can’t fail because even if we don’t win the competition, we’ve still done a really good thing.”
In total, 16 post-secondary schools and 40 elementary and high schools are participating in this year’s student challenge, which started in September 2012. The goal of the foundation is to raise a total of $150,000 from all three categories combined.
The winner of last year’s post-secondary student challenge was McGill, which raised just over $9,000 for the foundation. Algonquin’s team saw that benchmark as a conquerable goal that would bring the college attention from all over the country.
The team has prepared other fundraising events for the remaining weeks of the contest, including candy gram sales, a pub night and a grand finale fundraiser on Feb. 27.
“Being a part of an initiative that can potentially make Algonquin the winning institution nationally is very appealing to me,” said Roots. “Acting locally with a global perspective in mind, and making a tangible difference for a part of the world that I may never get to visit keeps me motivated.”